|Bremer Family Winery seeks county approval for structures built too close to a creek on its property off Deer Park Road east of St. Helena. Photo courtesy of Napa County.|
A Napa Valley winery’s efforts to run a compliant facility in the eyes of Napa County have been delayed for at least another month.
The Napa County Planning Commission on Wednesday voted 3-2 to postpone until Oct. 16 a decision on the fate of a number of structures built too close to a creek that runs through the Bremer Family Winery property off Deer Park Road east of St. Helena. The winery proposed to mitigate the issue by planting trees on another stretch of the creek.
Owners John and Laura Bremer in February settled a lawsuit against Napa County over a series of alleged violations. The Bremers, who purchased the established winery in 2002, agreed to pay Napa County $271,464 for legal costs and other fees. The Bremers also agreed to limit the number of visitors to the winery under their 1979 use permit and seek building permits for unpermitted structures.
On Wednesday, representatives for the Bremers sought an exemption to county conservation rules for a number of structures, including three pedestrian bridges and retention walls illegally constructed within the 45- to 65-foot stream setback. The application was forwarded as part of the settlement agreement.
Other structures located too close to the creek include a winery pad, an agricultural storage building, a carport, landscaping and a paved roadway, according to a staff report. Napa County apparently allowed two additions to a farmhouse and the construction of a bathroom within the stream setback.
Two consultants for the winery, Brian Mayerle, senior biologist at FirstCarbon Solutions in Rocklin, and Phill Blake, agricultural and natural resources advisor for RSA+ in Napa, said the structures built within the stream corridor on the winery property had no effect on the creek. Removing them would create instability, Blake said.
Residents asked the Planning Commission to request for a continuance, citing the need for more information and the winery’s history. They also wanted the extra time to obtain written transcripts of court proceedings that resulted in the February settlement.
The commissioners who voted to continue the hearing until Oct. 16 said they wanted more information to make a better decision.
Commissioner Jeri Hansen asked staff to list which of the violations the Planning Commission needs to address to bring clarity for the record and the community.
Some of the structures constructed within the creek setbacks were put in place before the county conservation rules took effect in 1991 are off the table, for instance. Other items have building permits.
“I’m in no way interested in flying in the face of the settlement agreement or making that more difficult,” Hansen said. “What I’m trying to do or hoping to do is make sure that we’re aligning and dovetailing into that settlement agreement in the most appropriate places possible and helping get to that settlement.”
Also voting to continue the matter were Planning Commission Chairwoman Joelle Gallagher and Planning Commission Anne Cottrell.
Two commissioners, Andrew Mazotti and Dave Whitmer, voted against the motion. “To remove the issues that have impacted the stream setback areas would create more environmental harm than leaving them in place,” Whitmer said. “There isn’t any other alternative that I can see.”
Attorney David Gilbreth, who represented the Bremers before the Planning Commission, said he and his team will work with the staff and the Planning Commission. However, he predicted before the vote the commission would have the same information it had Wednesday.
Charlene Gallina, supervising planner, said staff will obtain a status update on all the building permits issued under the settlement from code enforcement personnel.
Napa County officials had issued their first notice of violation over against the winery in August 2005.
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MADISON, Wis. – Community officials are working to decriminalize mental illnesses within the juvenile justice system, which they discussed through a public forum Thursday through National Alliance on Mental Illness Dane County.
Speakers said they’re working on creating better intervention and prevention methods to resolve issues such as violence.
“Our mental health system has a lot of catching up to do,” NAMI Dane County Executive Director Anna Moffit said. “We’re really in a place of crisis. I would say perhaps 50% of youth that are experiencing mental health illnesses are actually able to access services, so we’re way behind the curve.”
Panelists like Carlin Becker, a police officer within the Madison Police Department’s mental health unit, said there is a great need for mental health services.
“Prevention is the key,” Becker said.
She said there are issues in the system that families can’t get past, which makes it difficult to make any progress.
Speakers said they’re working to reduce the stigma associated with seeking help for mental illnesses, especially for youth. They also said they’re making sure to ask what families need for their loved ones.
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The Sonoma County Wine Auction offers an unforgettable experience, featuring distinct wines, delectable food and incredible generosity.
This year, Christopher Jackson, of Jackson Family Wines, and Gina Gallo, of E. & J. Gallo Winery, will co-chair the event, which runs from September 19 to 21, bringing generations of winemaking acumen and leadership to Sonoma County’s leading fundraising event. I caught up with Christopher and Gina to get the scoop on this year’s event that has raised more than $30 million since its inception
Congratulations on being named co-chairs for this year’s event. What does this honor mean to you?
A: Christopher Jackson
I am thrilled at the opportunity to give back to my local community. Sonoma County means so much to my family and me. It is our home. We owe our success to the bounty our farmland has to offer and the pioneering and resilient culture of our local people. We can support 65 local charities through this auction and give back to a community that has given so much to us. It’s an honor to co-chair a philanthropic effort of this magnitude with Gina Gallo.
A: Gina Gallo
I’m so grateful for the opportunity to give back to Sonoma County. My grandfather and great uncle fell in love with this place a long time ago. My brother Matt was Auction Chair a few years ago. Now it’s my turn. One of the wonderful attributes of Sonoma County is the sense of community – I love doing my part to contribute. But I can’t do it alone – I’ve had the pleasure of partnering with Chris on this project and can’t say enough nice things about him and his family. We’re both doing this because we love Sonoma County. It’s been a humbling experience to see people step up and support this auction.
Do you have a favorite event during the Sonoma County Wine Auction? Is it Best Party Ever, Vintner Dinner, or the Auction? Tell us what you enjoy about it.
A: Christopher Jackson
This Thursday’s Best Party Ever is an extraordinary event. With a name like that how could it not be?
The combination of great local food, remarkable local wine, a casual atmosphere, a beautiful venue, and music that you can’t help but dance to makes Best Party Ever extraordinarily fun.
A: Gina Gallo
There is an energy at the Sonoma County Auction that is unique. I walk in and I get a little bit choked up because I feel it – there is such a desire to contribute and such a strong commitment to support this amazing community. I especially appreciate the Fund-A-Need paddle raise at the live auction. When you look across the audience and see all those paddles go up it is powerfully emotional.
How does the Sonoma County Wine Auction support the local community?
A: Christopher Jackson
The money raised comes from a variety of sources that include auction lot sales, ticket sales, sponsorship and private donations. After operational costs, the proceeds go to the many charitable non-profits the Sonoma County Vintners Foundation supports. We have an incredible amount of momentum behind this year’s auction. I believe we are on track to break new fundraising records.
Gina and I have a passion for children and children’s education. We are particularly excited and proud of the Fund-A-Need paddle raise where guests will be able to contribute to the construction of a new Boys & Girls Club in Roseland, one of our county’s most underserved areas. In addition, we will continue to support our ongoing commitment to literacy programs. We are proud to share that within Sonoma County, 56 percent of public schools received support from beneficiary organizations of the Fund the Future initiative.
A: Gina Gallo
Since its inception, the auction has raised over $30 million for Sonoma County non-profit organizations. Through the Sonoma County Vintners Foundation we enable organizations that feed the homeless, improve mental health for those in need, provide nutrition to pantries for vulnerable families, inspire young minds with music and theater and have the ability to respond to unexpected challenges this county may face in the future. This community truly flourishes from this philanthropic endeavor and the support of its generous attendees.
Who are some of the wine superstars and local celebrity chefs?
A: Gina Gallo
We have 83 Sonoma County wineries participating in this year’s auction, so the event will be filled with wine superstars. I’m excited to be recognizing legendary winemaker Merry Edwards as our Vintner Honoree at this year’s event. She’s has had an outstanding career. Merry was one of only three women in the enology program at UC Davis in the 70s, and the only one at that time who became a winemaker following graduation. I respect her a great deal.
A: Christopher Jackson
As our culinary chair, Chef Dustin Valette of Valette Healdsburg has worked tirelessly to assemble an extraordinary group of 11 local chefs who will be cooking some incredible dishes for the event.
Among them, two-time James Beard Award-Winning Chef, Restaurateur and this year’s Sonoma County Wine Auction Chef Honoree, John Ash. Many refer to Chef John Ash as the “Father of Wine Country Cuisine. In 1980, he opened John Ash & Company in Santa Rosa, which gained international acclaim and continues to be critically applauded. He is a cookbook author, hosted two shows on Food Network, co-hosted a radio show for 32 years and served as an instructor at the Culinary Institute of America Greystone.
Tell us about your 2019 Auction Lot.
A: Christopher Jackson
My wife and I are huge country music fans. We’ve arranged an incredible private evening with GRAMMY Award-winning Lady Antebellum. Lady Antebellum is one of the most celebrated bands in country music and has released nine #1 hits, earned seven GRAMMY Awards, and sold more than 18 million albums. This incredible evening of music and wine will be elevated even further by immersing our guests in the luxurious outdoor lifestyle that embodies wine country living.
To be held at the newly constructed Wing & Barrel Ranch private clubhouse, the evening’s entertainment will be set against the expansive views of their stunning 1000-acre ranch in Sonoma. Our guests will meet the music superstars, enjoy the exclusive member experience Wing & Barrel Ranch offers,and be treated to an array of delicious food & wine, including select large-format wines from the Jackson Family’s personal collection of Stonestreet releases.
A: Gina Gallo
I have personally curated a trip to Italy to visit some of its most remarkable wineries – and interesting people – in the world of wine. The lot includes business-class airline tickets for four; insider experiences and wine tastings in Milan, Piedmont, Verona, Fumane, Florence and Montalcino; and a case of my favorite wines from Sonoma County and beyond to help remember your trip.
In Piedmont –you’ll focus on Barolo with a personal tour from Pietro Ratti, principal of the iconic Italian producer Renato Ratti. The day ends with a private dinner with Pietro featuring library vintages from his cellar. North of Verona, world-renowned Allegrini Winery CEO Marilisa Allegrini will give a private tour of her estate, Palazzo della Torre in Fumane before leading guests through an intimate cooking class in her personal kitchen. In Tuscany, the winning bidder or bidders will spend the day exploring Sangiovese with iconic Brunello di Montalcino producer Argiano. As a bonus, if your travel dates sync up, I might even join you as your tour guide at one of the cities!
Why is the Sonoma County wine region special to you?
A: Gina Gallo
Sonoma County as a wine region is unique for its diversity. This is one of the reasons why my grandfather and great uncle fell in love with this place. You can grow Cabernet Sauvignon in the Alexander Valley…and Chardonnay in the Russian River Valley and…. Pinot Noir on the Sonoma Coast…and Zinfandel in the Dry Creek Valley and on and on. This region has it all –and the wines made with these grape varieties are among the best in the world. I love it and can’t get enough of it. I would urge your audience to spend some time here!
A: Christopher Jackson
I couldn’t agree more. Sonoma County is one of the most complex and diverse wine regions in the world. Sonoma County has extraordinary soil diversity, elevation, coastal influence, and topography. At the auction and on any visit to Sonoma County, guest should be prepared to drink and reflect upon world-class expressions of Burgundy varieties, Bordeaux varieties, and Rhône Varieties. Our diversity of microclimate leads to our diversity of great wine.
Tickets to this weekend’s Sonoma County Wine Auction are still available. The event runs this Thursday-Saturday.
Editorial Credit Lady Antebellum: Debby Wong / Shutterstock
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The first time I went to counseling, I didn’t have a choice.
From the outside looking in, it wouldn’t have appeared I needed to go.
I was 16-years-old, a high-level athlete, a good student with good friends.
But after my third run-in with the law in three years, I was put on probation and court-ordered to go to counseling.
In addition to being really bad at breaking the law, I had issues I didn’t know how to deal with, leading to bad decisions … such as breaking the law
I can’t say if counseling saved my life, but I have no doubt it put me on a better path — an unexpected path.
Counseling provided perspective to realize what were truly mountains and what were molehills I was making too big.
I went to counseling again in college as I tried to sort out some childhood issues. And I sought counseling again shortly after my first child was born.
I was struggling at balancing a workaholic schedule, a deep desire to be a good father and a feeling of depression. I also had an overwhelming fear my son was going to die, and I was split between being detached from him, while at the same time consumed with his safety. Every night I would get up multiple times and place my hand on his chest to make sure he was breathing.
So why am I sharing this with you?
Because as someone who advocates for mental health and the benefits of counseling, I want to share I’ve had dark days. Days that I could not think straight, and days I’ve struggled to get out of bed.
Each time I’ve gone to counseling it has helped, even when I didn’t like or connect with the counselor. And that’s provided bright days, better days … or just days that I know I can get through.
But I also want to share this: I get why there is a stigma attached to seeking help.
I have fears. Writing this, I feel my concerns intensify.
Will people judge me? Will people think I’m weak? That I couldn’t handle it on my own?
I get why discussing mental health on a personal level is hard. One reason I was drawn “mental health comedian” Frank King as a keynote speaker for tonight’s Longevity event were several things he said on his TED Talks events.
He had experienced high levels of success — from a 20-year career writing for the Tonight Show to well-run corporate stand-up routine — and even at the high times, he felt depressed.
I can relate.
He wondered if he felt depressed when things were going well, how would he react when things got bad?
I can relate to that, too.
More than that, I was drawn to how he explained how to start a conversation with each other.
Start the conversation.
That phrase is why I’ve been so passionate about this year’s Longevity Project focused on mental health. We’ve penned several stories, videos and held several micro-events, with it all culminating tonight with a presentation by King at Morgridge Commons — a humorous look at our darkest moments of life, with a mission of how to start the conversation.
My mental health conversation was forced on me, and I couldn’t be more thankful.
If you are someone who is maybe dealing with some issues, or if you have a loved one you’re concerned about, you might want to come to tonight’s event. But if nothing else, have a conversation. With a counselor if you need it. Or with a loved one if they need it.
At minimum, it can help put them on a better path. And it may save a life.
Jerry Raehal is publisher of the Glenwood Springs Post Independent.
Editor’s note: You can get tickets to tonight’s event online at https://glenwood.longevityproject.net/ or at the door. Tickets are $15 with proceeds being donated to local non-profits. Admission is free for teachers and students — please contact me at email@example.com for details. Frank King will be available at 5 p.m. if you would like to meet him.
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|Karissa Kruse, president, Sonoma County Winegrowers, and Glenn Proctor, right, president, Sonoma County Winegrowers, hosted a press conference on Dutton Ranch to announce that 99 percent of all vineyards in Sonoma County are sustainable certified. Laurel Marcus, executive director at California Land Stewardship Institutes’s Fish Friendly Farming, left, presented the new climate adaptation certification program in collaboration with Sonoma County Winegrowers. Photo by Kerana Todorov/Wine Business Monthly.|
The Sonoma County Winegrowers Association on Thursday announced that 99 percent of its vineyards are certified sustainable. The trade association also announced its next project – the launch of a pilot climate adaptation certification program to fight climate change.
The record-breaking percentage of vineyards certified sustainable was announced five years after 1,800 said they were committed to pursuing best management practices and having their properties certified sustainable by a third party.
That voluntary effort has led Napa-based Fish Friendly Farming to collaborate with Sonoma County Winegrowers on a pilot climate adaption program to find a local solution to climate change, a global problem.
“It’s our belief that the best way to impact any sort of climate change is through local solutions,” Karissa Kruse, president, Sonoma County Winegrowers, said Thursday. “It’s actually about taking action and about having measureable practices that we know will make an impact.”
Fish Friendly Farming, run by the California Land Stewardship Institute, developed the climate adaption certification program to reduce greenhouse gas emissions – carbon dioxide, nitrous oxide and methane – and to boost carbon sequestration in vines, soils, trees and shrubs. It did so after reviewing more than 300 scientific articles and a scientific peer review, said Laurel Marcus, who leads Fish Friendly Farming.
“We’re working with the winegrowers of Sonoma because they did such a fabulous job with their sustainability program,” Marcus said. “It’s really outstanding.”
“Ninety-nine percent is a big number,” Marcus said. “That’s a really big accomplishment to get to that point.”
Twenty yet-to-be selected Sonoma County vineyards will take part in the pilot voluntary climate adaption certification program which entails the preparation of a farm plan.
The group will evaluate current practices on each vineyard site and work with growers on environmentally-friendly farm practices such as reducing tillage, increase cover crops and grass filter strips – dense, permanent grass. Fish will also evaluate fertilizer use as nitrogen produces nitrous oxide, one of the most potent of the greenhouse gases, Marcus said. Farmers’ practices will also improve soil health, she also said.
Agriculture produces only 8 percent of all greenhouse gas emissions in California, Marcus said. The rest comes from transportation, energy and various industries.
Trees planted near vineyards under the climate adaptation certification program, for instance, will sequester carbon that offset greenhouse gas emissions from other sources. “So it’s not like the farmers are just taking care of their own emissions, they’re taking care of the rest of us,” Marcus said. “This helps everybody.”
Fish Farming will then use the USDA/Colorado State University model ”COMET-farm” model to quantify reductions in greenhouse gas emissions and carbon sequestration under each scenario.
Three yet-to-be selected regulatory agencies will review and certify the farm plan, a step similar to other sustainability program like Fish Friendly Farming. A timeline and a list of actions will then be issued.
Napa Valley Vintners joined this summer the Porto protocols that commit to fight climate change. Sonoma County Winegrowers’ Kruse said growers in Sonoma County’s approach to climate change is to understand what practices they can do on their farms.
“At the end of the day to really have impact, you have to do it farm by farm. It’s practice by practice,” Kruse said.
Glenn Proctor, chairman of the Sonoma County Winegrowers and partner at Ciatti, the grape and bulk wine brokerage firm, is a fourth generation winegrower.
He recalled his grandfather, Louie Puccioni, urging him as a young child to care for the family ranch. “Someday it will be your responsibility to maintain this ranch and pass it on to the next generation – take care of it,’’ his grandfather said when they worked together in the vineyard.
Farmers want to manage their resources correctly and be part of the solution, Proctor said as he discussed the next step, the climate adaption certification program.
“We think that all growers see these programs as a way to maintain agriculture in Sonoma County for generations to come,” said Proctor, whose family continues to grow grapes in Dry Creek.
The climate adaptation certification pilot program is being developed thanks in part to a grant of about $100,000 from the California Department of Food and Agriculture, according to Marcus. Fish Friendly Farming has certified since 1997 more than 120,000 acres in nine counties.
Editor’s Note: This article has been corrected.
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Did Sonoma County just become the most sustainable wine region in the world?
That’s what Karissa Kruse believes. As the president of the Sonoma County Winegrowers, she has the numbers to support her argument. Five years ago, her organization announced an ambitious goal: for 100% of the county’s vineyards to hold a sustainability certification by 2019. It’s 2019 now, and the Winegrowers report that 99% are certified sustainable — not quite 100%, but awfully close.
“It feels surreal,” says Kruse. “Five years ago we were really at zero.”
On top of that, Sonoma County is gearing up to become the pilot subject of a brand-new certification program that could take its commitment to environmental responsibility even further. Called the Climate Adaptation Certification, the January 2020 initiative will guide participating farmers to mitigate the effects of climate change in their vineyards, primarily through tracking carbon sequestration and greenhouse gas emissions.
Climate change looms large over California’s $40 billion wine industry, and vineyard owners are becoming increasingly vocal about the need to intervene. Their shift in focus from topics like water conservation to big-picture ideas like carbon sequestration reflects the conversation’s evolution over the last five years.
For Sonoma farmers, sustainability “was really the foundation piece of being able to take this more meaningful step forward,” Kruse says.
But as sustainability certifications have proliferated, they’ve also drawn significant criticism — that the programs’ standards are too lax on the use of synthetic chemicals, that they are marketing ploys constituting “greenwashing,” that they are financially burdensome to small-scale farmers. Kruse argues that the Climate Adaptation Certification will offer tangible, quantifiable results in a way that the vague, malleable term “sustainability” cannot.
Will this new program, the first of its kind, finally provide some common ground for Sonoma’s wine industry as it confronts climate change, potentially its greatest threat to date?
Participation in any sustainability program in California is voluntary. For its 100%-sustainable campaign, the Sonoma County Winegrowers recognizes certifications from four third-party organizations: the California Sustainable Winegrowing Alliance, Fish Friendly Farming, Sustainability in Practice and Lodi Rules. Any vineyard owner in Sonoma County that obtains one of those certifications is eligible to put a “Sonoma County Sustainably Farmed Grapes” sign in their vineyard and, as of 2018, to use a similar label on their wine bottles.
The programs’ requirements vary, but most participants will have to develop a safe pest management plan, showing that they’re looking for non-chemical solutions where possible. Many farmers must prove they’re making efficient use of energy and water, protecting wildlife habitat, and treating employees equitably.
The campaign got off to a slow start in 2014. “After the first year we were only at 33%,” Kruse says. Many farmers were reluctant to join a program that would dictate how they could farm. Others insisted that they were farming responsibly but didn’t want to pay for the certification — which can cost $1,000 to $1,250 for the initial audit, and $200-$300 in the second and third years — or go through the tiresome paperwork.
But over time, attitudes changed.
“The tipping point was really when the wineries wanted to use the label,” says Kruse. Previously, customers wouldn’t know that a vineyard was certified sustainable unless they came to the vineyard and saw the sign. But now vintners could advertise their practices on a bottle, easily visible to all customers. This year the label will appear on over 500,000 bottles of wine, according to Kruse.
John Bucher, owner of Bucher Vineyard in Healdsburg, was one of the county’s latecomers, obtaining his sustainability certification just last spring. He would have done it sooner, but he hadn’t had time to initiate the process.
To get certified, Bucher says, “it wasn’t like we had to change a lot.” He was already following most of the protocol. But he notes he’s had success with some new additions, like owl boxes, which encourage owls to nest in the vineyard. Owls prey on moles and other rodents that can harm the vines, so they can potentially eliminate the need for synthetic rodent control. “The program nudged me to get it done,” Bucher says, “and having the boxes in strategic area of the vineyard, where there aren’t a lot of trees, is giving us some benefit.”
Bucher is glad he’s certified, but says there’s not much economic incentive for it. He also owns a dairy farm, for which he got an organic certification more than a decade ago, simply because he can charge more for organic milk. But “wineries aren’t really willing to pay more for grapes that are organic,” he says.
In the public consciousness, “sustainable” and “organic” may sound synonymous. But as defined by these certifying organizations, they’re hugely different. (Kruse estimates that 3% of Sonoma County’s vineyards are certified organic or biodynamic; some of them are also certified sustainable.) Organic farming, overseen here by California Certified Organic Farmers, strictly forbids the use of synthetic chemicals. Sustainable farming, on the other hand, is designed to be flexible.
“With organic, you’re either organic or you’re not,” says Ryan Decker, director of estate vineyards for Rodney Strong, one of the first Sonoma County operations to achieve sustainability certification. “But with sustainability there’s this huge range of scores you can have and still be sustainable. They don’t force you to do things that don’t make a lot of sense.”
For instance, says Decker, “there’s a misconception by the public that if we’re sustainable we’re not using pesticides. We are still spraying pesticides.”
The flexibility to continue using synthetic pesticides may make sustainability more palatable to a larger number of farmers, but critics argue that it dilutes the concept. “To me sustainability is a made-up word,” says organic viticulturist Phil Coturri, owner of Enterprise Vineyard Management. “How could you be sustainable and allow glyphosates to be used in the vineyard?”
Glyphosate, more commonly known as Roundup, is an herbicide and a probable carcinogen. Its producer, Monsanto, was ordered to pay billions of dollars in damages to people who used Roundup and later were diagnosed with cancer. Sustainability certifications permit the use of Roundup, along with neonicotinoid pesticides, which have been shown to harm bee populations.
Kruse says that the county’s growers use glyphosate “as a tool of last resort,” adding that use of the herbicide decreased 17% between 2016 and 2017 in Sonoma County.
But others have wondered: Did a high compliance rate in Sonoma County’s sustainability campaign come at the expense of high standards? “I would celebrate Sonoma County saying we want to be Roundup-free by the year 2025,” Coturri says.
Maybe the issue of climate change will unite the uncompromising organic advocates and the sustainability set. That’s where the Climate Adaptation Certification comes in. It was developed by Laurel Marcus, executive director of the environmental nonprofit California Land Stewardship Institute, which also administers the Fish Friendly Farming certification. The institute chose Sonoma County for the new pilot program because of its success with sustainability, Marcus says.
For the new certification, “the two goals are really to reduce greenhouse gas emissions and then to sequester carbon onsite,” says Marcus. “Of course, the purpose of having a farm is to grow a crop, so we can’t get in the way of that.”
The pilot program will roll out in January with a group of Sonoma County vineyards, which have not been selected yet. Participation will be free to the vineyard owners during the pilot program, though the full roll-out of the program will eventually come with an audit fee.
Getting certified will involve a personalized assessment of a farm in order to create a customized set of best practices. To mitigate the effects of climate change, a farmer might be asked to reconsider her approach to tilling, hedging, composting and irrigating. Soil management will play a large role. Farmers will be asked to make a “nitrogen budget,” tracking how much nitrogen they apply to their vineyards.
One of the most significant tools for fighting climate change is planting trees: “Oak trees sequester a lot of carbon,” Marcus says. The program’s other major target will be the greenhouse gas nitrous oxide, which is far more potent than carbon dioxide and is produced by agriculture.
“We’re not looking to radically change the way people farm,” Marcus says. “We’re looking at the fine points of what they’re doing and fine-tuning that.”
Kruse sees the program as having great marketing potential for California vineyards. “We believe that over the next couple years we’ll be able to equate the greenhouse gas savings with something much more tangible for the wine consumer,” she says. “We’ll be able to tell people if this farmer reduced greenhouse gases to the equivalent of taking five cars off the road for a year.”
“Sonoma County has really positioned ourselves as global leaders in sustainability,” Kruse continues. “We’re always going to be looking at what’s the evolution of that.”
Esther Mobley is The San Francisco Chronicle’s wine critic. Email: firstname.lastname@example.org Twitter: @Esther_mobley Instagram: @esthermob
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“This particular clinic celebrates whole health. There is a systems of care that we use here that allows our clients not only to receive mental health care here at this premise, but also allows us to utilize case management, home and community base services, and make sure that folks are linked with housing and primary care,” said United Helpers Director of Behavioral health Services Angela Doe.
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The Milwaukee County Behavioral Health Division has signed an agreement with federal regulators to fix ongoing problems at its psychiatric hospital in Wauwatosa. (Photo: John Schmid/Milwaukee Journal Sentinel)
The Milwaukee County Behavioral Health Division has signed a multi-year agreement with federal regulators to correct problems at the Mental Health Complex in Wauwatosa after a series of inspections found ongoing problems with documentation at the psychiatric hospital.
The agreement was signed last month with the federal Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services and requires the Behavioral Health Division to take steps, including hiring an outside consultant, to address violations of federal regulations.
The Mental Health Complex provides inpatient and emergency care primarily to patients with severe behavioral health conditions who are in crisis.
The agreement was first reported by Wisconsin Health News.
In August 2018, a survey, or inspection, was done after an anonymous complaint that a patient was not adequately stabilized before being discharged.
The survey determined that patients were in immediate jeopardy for “failure to perform comprehensive medical screening exams or to stabilize and provide appropriate treatment prior to discharge for patients who presented to the Emergency Department,” according to the agreement.
Mike Lappen, administrator of the Behavioral Health Division, said the surveyors had to assume that the patient didn’t receive adequate care because of incomplete documentation.
The survey also found several other violations of the Emergency Medical Treatment and Labor Act, known as EMTALA. Those violations include failure to complete a log at the end of several patient visits.
EMTALA requires hospital emergency departments to screen every patient who seeks emergency care and to stabilize or transfer those who need emergency care regardless of whether they have health insurance or can pay.
The survey was done by the Wisconsin Department of Health Services. The Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services contracts with the state agency to ensure that hospitals are meeting federal regulations.
A subsequent survey was done on Nov. 26, 2018, and federal regulators determined patients were no longer in “immediate jeopardy.” But the survey found the hospital was still not complying with certain provisions of EMTALA.
The violations, Lappen said, stemmed from incomplete documentation and problems with the hospital’s system for electronic health records.
Subsequent visits by state inspectors on Jan. 17 and March 5 found the hospital still was not complying with certain provisions of EMTALA.
A so-called recertification survey done March 13 by the state Department of Health Services and surveyors contracted by the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services then found the hospital was out of compliance with provisions regarding patient rights and requirements for medical records for psychiatric hospitals.
That survey, done to renew the psychiatric hospital’s license, found a new issue regarding documentation for patients who had been assessed at the emergency department to ensure they met the standards to be involuntarily hospitalized, Lappen said.
Patients can be involuntarily hospitalized if a physician determines they are at immediate risk of harm to themselves or others.
The inadequate documentation involved four cases in which patients were brought to the emergency department to be assessed before they were to be admitted to other hospitals in the Milwaukee area, Lappen said.
“No hospital has a clean survey,” he said. “There is always something to improve on.”
The results of the survey, however, drew more attention because of the problems found in the previous surveys.
“That is how this became such a serious event,” Lappen said.
The Behavioral Health Division had the option of requesting another survey but could have been forced to shut down if the survey found violations.
The Behavioral Health Division determined the best course was to sign the agreement with federal regulators, Lappen said.
Under the agreement with federal regulators, the Behavioral Health Division did not admit to the problems cited in the surveys or that they were not corrected.
But it agreed to hire an outside consultant who will identify areas that need to be improved, determine their causes and recommend fixes.
The consultant, who must be approved by federal regulators, must fill regular reports with the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services.
The agreement will remain in effect through July 1, 2021.
Tom Lutzow, chair of the Behavioral Health Division’s board, said the board was told of the problems and that if the problems were serious the hospital would have been given 30 days to fix them.
The violations stemmed in large part from a new electronic health records system, said Lutzow, who is president and CEO of Independent Care Health Plan, known as iCare.
Lutzow said he saw value in bringing in a third-party expert. But he said the finding of new violations in subsequent surveys was a frustration.
“There was a little bit feeling of catch-up,” Lutzow said.
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One in four people experience a mental health issue during the course of a year, according to data collected by the World Health Organization. This training from the Harford County Department of Community Services will teach participants how to recognize the signs of mental illness and what they can do to help themselves or someone they know. Trainers will provide accurate information about mental illness, outline the signs and symptoms of various disorders, and discuss community resources.
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Board of directors for the Mental Health, Addiction and Recovery Services, also known as MHARS, voted Aug. 22 to elect its first slate of officers and to set its public meeting schedule.
This year, Lorain County is integrating the leading agencies that plan, fund and monitor the public safety net of mental health and substance use services under Mental Health, Addiction and Recovery Services Board, formerly the Alcohol and Drug Addiction Services Board and the Board of Mental Health.
The Board voted to hold its monthly public full board meetings at 5:15 p.m., every third Thursday, at the Amy Levin Conference and Learning Center, 1165 North Ridge Road East in Lorain.
The Board also voted on its first slate of officers, to serve a one-year term in their elected roles: Tim Carrion, chair; Pamela Waite, vice chair; Inez James, secretary; and David Ashenhurst, chief governance officer.
“I’m excited to be on this team and to be working together with all of you to make things happen,” Carrion said upon his election, citing his previous years of service to the Board of Mental Health and his role on the transition team that developed policy and other recommendations for the new Board.
For current announcements about the Board’s activities, follow facebook.com/mharsloraincounty.
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